advice

the mmr vaccination:
what you need to know


The MMR vaccinates against measles, mumps and rubella.

It’s a very safe and effective injection given in two doses, one at 11 months and the second just before children start school at around three years and four months. It works by administering a weak version of the infections, which then triggers the immune system to create antibodies to fight them off. Measles, mumps and rubella are all serious conditions that, in complicated cases, can be fatal.



1.

mmr for older children

Some children under 18 might have only partially completed their course of the MMR vaccination. If you suspect that your older child might not have completed the course, then it's highly advisable that they have a 'catch-up' vaccination, which is available on the NHS.



2.

mmr in pregnancy

If you’re planning for a baby, it’s a good idea to check that you’re fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella. If your GP’s records are in any way unclear you can have the vaccination up to a month before you get pregnant, but it’s not suitable if you already are.



3.

autism rumours discredited

Back in 1998, a UK doctor published claims that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism and deafness. This suggestion has been thoroughly refuted and he has been struck off the medical register. No subsequent studies have found any substance to this claim.



4.

why single vaccines are not a substitute

Giving children these vaccines individually would mean six sets of injections. This significantly increases the chances that not all children would receive the full doses, meaning that measles, mumps and rubella would be more likely to re-emerge. This is why only the combined vaccination is available on the NHS.



5.

side effects

Any side effects are usually mild, and a whole lot less severe than the actual illnesses. Non-infectious measles or mumps may develop and last for a day or two. In very rare instances, a bruise-like rash may appear. If this happens, then it’s a good idea to see your GP.